WWE in 2011: Analyzing the Futures Of This Week's Top Stars
For once, RAW was better than Smackdown (in ring wise)
So our first week of 2011 is finished. We witnessed a few great matches this week, a few surprises, some predictable outcomes, and all of that other good stuff that comes with watching WWE programming.
All in all, it was a pretty good week. But where do we go from here?
Let's take a look at the most talked about guys of the week; guys who are most likely going to play a major part in WWE television for the rest of the year.
CM Punk: New Leader Of Nexus
Let's start with my personal favorite, CM Punk. A few weeks back, after spending time as a commentator on the RAW brand (and during the "main event" of TLC) to recover from an injury suffered at Bragging Rights, CM Punk came back in a big way by attacking John Cena on two separate occasions. With his sights set on Cena, Punk claimed that big things were in store and that a "surprise" was coming. Something Cena would never forget. Well, that surprise turned out to be the Nexus.
Since then, we have all been wondering if CM Punk was the official leader of the bad of NXT rookies. Well, our question was answered when Punk symbolically de-throned Wade Barrett from the position, by removing his Nexus armband after offering assistance in a steel cage #1 contender's match.
So now for the big question: Where does CM Punk go from here? It appears that Punk isn't your typical heel. He isn't just after a little bit of gold like the rest. He even gave up his spot in a #1 contender's match to Wade Barrett. No, this goes a lot deeper than just the WWE Championship. John Cena has wronged CM Punk. In Punk's mind, Cena is a hypocrite and a liar. Someone who will go back on their word without a moment's notice, just because it'll benefit him.
However, just because the title isn't Punk's priority, doesn't mean it isn't on his "to do" list. Expect Punk to win the Royal Rumble and possibly pick the title up at Mania or Extreme Rules, depending on how the Cena-Punk feud plays out.
Punk is a good leader, as he proved when he led the Straight Edge Society (before they started jobbing to the Smackdown locker room). Unlike Wade Barrett, I believe Punk will have a different regime than just using the Nexus to further his own career. I predict that Punk and the Nexus will start dominating on RAW. What's the point of a coup if it's not successful?
Obviously, WWE doesn't want anyone stopping this group, except for John Cena and since he's injured, expect great things from the Nexus for the coming weeks.
I predict CM Punk becoming "the main heel" of RAW this year. He is definitely capable of being in that role. All WWE has to do is build him up.
Dolph Ziggler: World Heavyweight Champion?
After losing the Intercontinental Title to the same person he lost it to, Dolph Ziggler seemed like he had just fallen in a rut. However, a few moments later, Ziggler found himself in a #1 Contender's Match for the World Heavyweight Championship. It seemed almost certain that the Big Show would win (kayfabe), until Dolph tricked Cody Rhodes and scored the victory.
From IC Champion to #1 Contender, the future is bright for young Dolph Ziggler.
However, I don't predict victory for Ziggler anytime soon. Though he is definitely a future World Champ (in my opinion), we are currently on the Road to Wrestlemania. Dolph Ziggler vs Edge seems like it is more of a test than anything. The WWE wants to find out if Ziggler is able to hold his own in the main event. They have already tested him against Cena in two stellar (or almost stellar in the case of the "handicap" match involving Vickie Guerrero) matches, but now they are willing to risk a main event for Ziggler, to see how the crowd takes to him in the main event scene.
If you are one of the 5 people on B/R who watches NXT, then you have witnessed that Dolph Ziggler no longer needs Vickie Guerrero to draw heat.
So, Ziggler vs Edge is almost just a throwaway match for the Royal Rumble. Perhaps Kane will be added into the mix, as he did state that he would face Edge on his terms and since Teddy Long made the Last Man Standing match, I don't think that qualifies as Kane's terms. There is no way Ziggler will win just yet.
However, I predict a Money in the Bank victory for Mr. Ziggler sometime this year. Either at Wrestlemania or the Money in the Bank PPV. Or maybe Ziggler might be involved in one of the many multi-man title matches. Night of Champions maybe? Either way, don't expect 2011 to end without Dolph Ziggler as World Champion.
John Morrison: To Push or Not To Push
After winning an epic #1 contender's match at TLC, many of us predicted that John Morrison would defeat the Miz at the Royal Rumble. After all, what's the point of a match like that if nothing results from it?
Well, after winning a match against Alex Riley a couple of weeks ago, John Morrison was allowed to pick the match type and when the match would take place. Well, he chose the following Monday Night RAW and chose a Falls Count Anywhere match.
After it was discovered that the WWE Championship match would actually open the show, it was pretty obvious who would win. However, no one predicted that the match would be as good as it was. It was definitely a five-star match, featured a great showing from both competitors, and was the Miz's first clean victory as WWE Champion.
I thought Morrison would get his much deserved rematch at the Royal Rumble, however, that idea has pretty much been shot down, as Randy Orton is now the number one contender (naturally...).
So where does JoMo go from here? Well, don't expect too much from the Shaman of Sexy in the coming weeks. He won't have any awesome feuds or anything, though I can't say the same about matches. He will definitely be in the Royal Rumble (and has a good possibility of winning it in my opinion, that is if CM Punk doesn't win it) and will probably find himself in the Elimination Chamber.
It'll be a while before JoMo gets his shot again. However, there is a strong possibility that Morrison will win the Money in the Bank match. After a performance like the one we saw on Monday, it would be stupid of the WWE to not give this guy another shot.
Wade Barrett: Smackdown's Newest Recruit
The winner of NXT season 1 and the former leader of Nexus, Wade Barrett, has officially made his way to the Smackdown brand. During the #1 Contender's match involving Big Show, Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes, and Drew McIntyre, Barrett made his way to the ring and attacked the unstoppable Big Show.
If you have been watching WWE television for the past year and if you are a big fan of Wade Barrett's, then you probably felt the same thing I did: frustration. How is Wade Barrett supposed to defeat the Big Show, a man who hasn't been pinned in over a year? I was annoyed. I was upset. I was angry.
But then I started reading some reports about Barrett vs Undertaker. There are rumors that Undertaker actually wants to "feud" with Wade Barrett. Apparently, the feud will begin as soon as Undertaker gets back (whether it be before or after Mania).
This got me thinking and now, here is my opinion on the matter: Wade Barrett will defeat the Big Show. After being kicked out of Nexus, things seemed downhill for Barrett. But now, he has a chance to prove his worth, by dominating the Blue Brand. And what better way to start than by being the first person in over a year to actually pin the Big Show?
Expect Wade Barrett to be defeated a few times, before moving on and beginning a program with the Undertaker (who may make an appearance and cost Wade Barrett the match at Elimination Chamber). I don't think Barrett will end the streak, but he'll come close. This will just be the beginning of the feud; a feud which will probably see Barrett actually win against the Undertaker. After all, there are rumors that Undertaker is wanting to "pass the torch" to Wade Barrett. Why wouldn't Barrett win in that situation?
Randy Orton: No. 1 Contender...Again
So on Monday, Wade Barrett, Sheamus, and Randy Orton competed in a steel cage match to decide the #1 Contender for the Miz's WWE Championship. Considering how Barrett, Sheamus, and The Miz are all heels, did anyone actually believe that Orton would lose?
I'm not too high on the idea of Orton facing the Miz again at the Royal Rumble. I didn't get to see their match at TLC, but I didn't hear good things. Randy Orton doesn't have the same in-ring chemistry with guys like John Cena does. I'm not saying Randy Orton isn't exciting in the ring, it's just the story telling of the match isn't as good and the promos leading up to the event aren't as exciting as they should be.
There are two ways this will go: Orton wins the title at Royal Rumble or Orton doesn't win the title at Royal Rumble. Either way, Orton will be the guy coming out on top. The Miz will most likely win through interference or he'll be DQ'd. Either way, it'll make Randy Orton look good and the Miz look bad.
Orton will then go on to be in the Eliminaton Chamber, before having a feud with a returning Chris Jericho (the man he put out of action (kayfabe) a few months back). That's right WWE, we don't forget. Not all of us are as stupid as the little kids you appeal to.
I predict another title reign this year for Randy Orton. It'll probably be another transitional run, but Orton will still dominate as 2011 goes by.
Alberto Del Rio: A
Whenever I think of the term "Future World Champion," three names pop in my head; Dolph Ziggler; Wade Barrett; and Alberto Del Rio.
During his debut night on Smackdown, Alberto Del Rio defeated Rey Mysterio. After that, he teased a feud with Christian, until injury ended the rivalry before it began. After that, he has been constantly feuding with the "Ultimate Underdog," though never in one-on-one competition. Until Friday, that is.
In what was being advertised as "their final match," Alberto Del Rio bested Rey Mysterio in a 2 out of 3 falls match. However, due to the nature of the victory (Ricardo Rodriguez caused Rey to get counted out), I doubt this will be the last match. There will probably be one more, in which Rey defeats Del Rio. However, in my mind, the damage has already been done; Alberto Del Rio is on his way to success.
It is very possible that Del Rio could win the Royal Rumble. He is the most likely superstar on the Smackdown locker room to actually win the Rumble and why not? He has the look of a champion; he is excellent in the ring and on the mic; he is more over with the crowd than most of the locker room.
I don't know where he'll go from here, but whichever road Alberto Del Rio takes, the World Title will be at the end of it.
Kofi Kingston: The Next
Kofi Kingston is once again the Intercontinental Champion. After losing the title to Dolph Ziggler last summer, things have been a little bumpy for Kingston. Out of all of Ziggler's title defenses, Kingston was involved in 7 of them (5 singles matches and 2 triple threats).
My take on this is that the WWE wanted to move Ziggler up to the upper mid card/main event scene. As Ziggler had taken on every serious threat to his IC title, the WWE must have thought Kingston would be the only person worthy of defeating Mr. Ziggler.
With Kingston as champ, this sets up many different options. Smackdown is pretty heel heavy, as far as the mid card goes. Drew McIntyre, Cody Rhodes, and especially Jack Swagger are all possible contenders for the new champ. Most likely, Kingston will have a transitional reign, ending with Jack Swagger as the new champion.
At this point, Kingston's future is up in the air. Last year, Kingston was locked in a serious feud against Randy Orton, one that ended with Orton facing Sheamus at Royal Rumble and Kingston going back to the IC title. With all of these midcard title reigns under his belt, Kofi Kingston seems on the path of "midcarder for life."
However, Kingston's future isn't written in stone. He is a terrific performer and could very well breakout and win his first World Title this year.
Drew McIntyre: A Future
As we have all seen in recent weeks, Drew McIntyre has been hitting on Kelly Kelly. After Michelle McCool defeated Kelly on Friday, her and Layla started taunting her and almost attacked her, before McIntyre came out and told them to leave.
It seems Drew McIntyre is on the verge of a face turn. The "Chosen One" hasn't done anything of note in recent months and a face turn could actually do him wonders. His character is currently starting to bore even me and it would be refreshing to see a new "face."
I don't expect McIntyre to win a title this year, but I predict this to be the year that he breaks out. He could possibly feud with a big name star, win a few high profile matches, and solidify himself as a true "future World Champion."
At the age of 25, Drew has a long career ahead of him. He has plenty of time to become a World Champion. But the sooner he breaks out, the better his career will be.
The Miz: Another
The Miz had a great 2010. He won the US title, the Tag Titles, and the prestigious WWE title all last year and is currently heading into the Royal Rumble as the champion.
Up until this point, the Miz has been portrayed as a cowardly heel. Using almost any means necessary to retain his title, the Miz has yet to win a clean title defense: until this past Monday that is.
After an epic 25-minute long bout against John Morrison, the Miz "proved his critics wrong" by cleanly defeating his former tag team partner. Currently, a short feud with Orton seems to be in the works, which will most likely end with Miz retaining his title at Royal Rumble. However, Orton is going to be a challenge for the Miz and Alex Riley will be there to make sure the Miz doesn't lose.
The same cannot be said for Elimination Chamber, where the Miz will finally drop his title, unless the WWE decides to go through with the John Cena-The Miz feud that has been discussed in the past.
Anyway, with or without the title, expect the Miz to keep getting better in the ring. After finally winning the WWE title, I don't expect the Miz to fall too far from the main event scene for quite some time. A feud with John Cena is almost inevitable this year (whether it be at WrestleMania, SummerSlam, or any other point this year).
2011 will most likely be another good year for the Miz and another championship reign is very likely at this point in time.
John Cena: The Champ Will Be Here!
John Cena had a hectic 2010. From losing the WWE title to Batista after 5 minutes to being "fired" by Wade Barrett, John Cena wasn't exactly "Superstar of the Year."
Things were looking up for Cena heading into 2011, that is until CM Punk began attacking him. Now, John Cena is injured and will probably be out of action for a little while. The WWE is advertising that he will be back tomorrow, though that remains to be seen.
Upon his return, he will most likely continue his program with CM Punk and the Nexus, leading into a match at WrestleMania (one in which I would like to see Punk come out on top, yet will probably see Cena win once again). A WWE title reign is almost a guarantee for the "current face of the WWE."
2011 will be a good year for John Cena. Whether he has great feuds, great matches, or a title reign, John Cena will have a great year.
So what do you guys think?
Do you agree with my predictions for the year?
I could have gone into Triple H's possible return, but I wanted to focus on the main attractions for this week and try to predict how 2011 will go for the most talked about guys of the week (as far as B/R goes).
Leave comments below and if you liked it, hit "LIKE!" Thank you and good night!